Sunday, 6 December 2009

Hylands Park Farmers Market

Still playing stand-in while James completed his weekend bender to celebrate his best friend's birthday, I dragged dear husband along to Hylands Park, to sell our rare breed beef at the farmers market there.

The main house is stunning, as you can see above, but the day began with such a downpour that it was a little difficult to appreciate until later on. We struggled in a particularly comical manner with the delightful gazebo, which nearly blew away much to our neighbour's amusement. Finally though, with the help of the lovely Pauline who runs the market, we were up and running...

But where were the customers?

Unfortunately the rain had well and truly stopped play. Lots of dog-walkers popped by, and we gave them (and their bedraggled dogs!) samples of our melt-in-the-mouth cold roast rolled rib, but who takes their wallet to walk the dog? At around 2.30 it started to pick up a bit, and was busy-ish until 3.30, but sales were slow. Like at Linton, once we'd persuaded people to taste the meat they were much more likely to buy, but it just wasn't somewhere full of people buying ingredients - they were more interested in the cafe or the art galleries at the big house. So, a disappointing take, where the biggest learning was to take a thermos and thicker socks!However, the small band of eight stall-holders were an optimistic lot, and everyone stuck it out for the whole day with lots of good cheer for such a chilly day. Here they are...

The very lovely Made By Cass was right next to us, with beautiful homemade jewellery. I bought a Christmas present for someone but I can't mention it here til after Christmas! Cass and her husband enjoyed our beef tasters and they sent so many of their customers in our direction that we gave them a little thank you treat at the end of the day in the form of a pack of our lovely minced beef. You can find lots of her jewellery online to buy here:

I bought a very delicious peach muffin from the lovely man at Mrs Crumbles Cakes (no website yet - I'll post it as soon as they're up and running).

Stour Valley Smokehouse had absolutely divine tasters of their paprika smoked goat's cheese. The spice gave it a really unusual soft powdery finish on the outside which offset the creamiest goat's cheese I've ever tried - it was more like a really ripe brie! I very stupidly didn't get any before he left. His salmon mousse was pretty special too...

Mcarthy's were selling beautiful bountiful breads and warming soups, as well as naughty viennese fingers and chocolate brownies. Yes we succumbed...

The Giggly Pig knew what they were doing - with a little grill to cook samples of their myriad of flavoured sausages. My favourite though was the faggot... hhhmmmmmm meaty goodness.

The award for Most Cheerful Man of the Day has to go to Essex Larders - his optimism never failed, just like his pies which were a triumph of good traditional fare with a contemporary twist. The 'sexy' pies were truly intriguing...

The very friendly Essex Wildlife Trust were also there, selling memberships. However as the husband is in the picture I took he won't let me put it up!!

So, what we missed in custom was certainly made up for by the cheer and good feeling from everyone who was able to make it out - thanks to everyone we met. Though I won't be volunteering for another outdoor market in a big hurry as I think my feet have only just started to warm up six hours later!

Hylands Park Farmers Market is held every Sunday from 10am to 4pm, at the Stables Visitor Centre. We're not always there though - Jim's next visit is on Sunday 20th December.

Juliet D-H

Digg! submit to reddit

Linton Farmers Market

James went off to a wedding this weekend & I stood in, roping in my dear new husband for moral support (and to lift the heavy stuff of course). Yesterday we took some of Jim's fabulous rare breed pork to Linton Farmers Market.

A half day market, it was very busy, with lots of people shopping for Christmas joints to freeze til they need them. We tempted everyone with tastings of a cold roast shoulder, which worked a treat - we sold every joint! Our award-winning sausages also went down a storm. We came away feeling extremely proud of ourselves, particularly since the cashbox told the same story meaning we could carry it home like a trophy.

It was really interesting to experience a farmer's market as a trader, since I'm so often on the other side of the stall. I learned a lot about making sales - there's a very fine line between being too pushy and gently persuading people to purchase for the first time. My experience of being a customer myself made me cautious initially, but I soon realised that people are genuinely interested in our story of local farming, and our family's support of rare breeds really does catch the imagination. The number of repeat customers was really heart-warming, with so many saying that they'd stopped buying anyone else's pork! It helped having two of us working the stall so that we could talk to so many more people. I also needed the mathmatical abilities of my other half as I realised my mental arithmatic is seriously rusty!

Linton Farmers Market is held every first Saturday of each month, from 9.30 to 12.30, at Linton Village College in Cambridgeshire, which is here:
PLEASE NOTE: there won't be a market in January.

Other friendly stall holders included: Artistry In Cocoa, Jane's Cupcakes, Laura's Cakes & Cookies, Cobs Bakery

Juliet D-H

Digg! submit to reddit

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Long Melford Farmers Market

I took the sister to Long Melford Farmers Market today, so that she can cover for me in a few weeks time when I'm off to a friend's wedding. We did have to keep telling people we were brother and sister though, as there were a few who assumed we were married and that was just a little strange!

It was nice to see some regulars back again - our beef really does sell itself once tasted - and some new faces who we tempted with the rare-breed beef joints and steaks we were selling. It's a very good, well-advertised market, with a nice mix of different kinds of stalls, but we could really feel the pregnant pause in the pre-Christmas trade, as people save for next month's big spend. The right number of people came through the doors but they just weren't spending, so we had pretty average takings.

We'll be there again on the 19th of December (it's every 3rd Saturday of the month), hoping to pick up some of the Christmas trade. We'll have joints at the market, and we can take orders in advance as well. Perfect for a Christmas roast... who says you have to have turkey?!

Long Melford Farmers Market is held on the 3rd Saturday of the month between 10am-1pm, in the village hall, here:

Digg! submit to reddit

Saturday 21st Nov 10-1: we're selling beef at Long Melford Farmer's Market

Tomorrow we'll be at Long Melford Farmer's Market - in the lovely village hall there.

It runs from 10am til 1pm so do pop in if you're nearby and come and say hello. We'll be selling fresh beef from a Red Poll - Aberdeen Angus cross reared on our farm. It's been hung for 5 weeks and is very well marbled and of course delicious!

Digg! submit to reddit

Saturday, 14 November 2009


This I think is a reason to get up in the morning.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Busy bees...

Apologies for being lax about keeping you all informed with the farm in the recent weeks. I have been incredibly busy with one thing and another, including getting roped in to helping prepare my sister's wedding, a rather extravagant affair, taking a week to put up all the decorations.

With my wife being an event designer and coordinator and a florist to boot (rosehip things have certainly been pretty busy for us... but it's been worth it!


In some farm news, we have been nursing our new Tamworth boar through meningitis, a rather harrowing experience to say the least. Fortunately when all seemed lost Geffory pulled through with a terrific fighting spirit. Once we got through the 36 hours of fitting we were feeding him with a syringe for a week and spoon feeding him solids after. It took 2 weeks before he showed any signs of being able to get to his feet - because of how he had been lying his legs needed physio to strech out the ligaments and tendons. To begin with he was able to get up onto his front legs with a little help, then for short periods he was able to stand properly with only a little support from me. Then one morning we found him twenty yards from his bed. Since then he has improved in leaps and bounds, tucking into copious amounts of food to put on some of the weight he lost while ill. He is now the most handlable pig we have and as long as there are no unseen side effects it looks like he has managed to make a pretty miraculous recovery.

After all that we now have the run up to Christmas, in which we are extremly busy. We're going to at least 14 farmer's markets in the next few weeks, while at the same time preparing for the cows coming back in from their summer pasture. We have cows who are about ready for calfing, chickens hatching eggs and ewes that need to be tupped, which means locating a Kerry Hill ram. So we're keeping busy! At some point I guess we'll need to think about writing some Christmas cards...

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Basking in fame and glory

Well, since being photographed for the paper and having produced piglets which win competitions, Tallulah, our Ginger Tamworth sow, has become a bit of a Prima Donna!

When the photographer came to take shots for this weekend's East Anglian Daily Times article, he seemed somewhat shocked that it was not going to be a picture of me standing behind a deli counter with my produce on display! He was taken aback slightly more when Tallulah came up to introduce herself and find out if he had any food. Seeing his face I asked if this was what he was expecting "Well it's certainly original" was the reply.

There are so many people out there who don't associate the meat they buy with the animals that produce it. I, first and foremost, am a farmer and my main responsibilities are to the welfare of the animals in my care. The selling of their meat is a by-product but one that needs to be done to help pay for their food and care. It is for this reason I wanted Tallulah in the shot as she has been integral to our success!


Monday, 31 August 2009


What a fantastic weekend!

My sister has already said we are Jimmy's Farm UK Sausage Producer of 2009, beating off competition from around the country. It has definitely been a combination of our slow reared pigs and our butcher's quality sausage-making that has brought us to this point.

It was no plain sailing, with it being the first event we have ever cooked at there were but a few minor hiccups (not least learning how to work well under pressure with my wife, Annabel). Having arrived and met the extremely friendly staff at Jimmy's Farm we set up our stall and fired up the grill. Then boy-o-boy did I have my BBQ skills put to the test. I have never cooked so many sausages in a six hour period before, or so I thought on Saturday night. Saturday evening was spent cleaning, cooking yet more onions and what we thought would be preparing for Sunday but nothing could have got us ready for our award-winning rush!

They held the competition around lunch time which was slightly unfortunate as I was so flustered with cooking so many sausages I literally went up, shook everyones hand, accepted the cup and tottered off to man the grill, completely forgetting the Oscar style speech I had optimistically thought of doing if I won.

With the publicity from the event and having looked at our stall set up in relation to others, I definitely need to tap my sister for some better branding, so hopefully you will see a business card and website soon!

All in all except for being completely exhausted we had the best weekend in the time I have been working on the farm, and I hope it is the first of many awards and good weekends! We'd like to say a BIG thank you to Jimmy's Farm for all their support.

If there is anyone out there that wants to buy our sausages but would like to try them first I can suggest paying a visit to The Pheasant Pub in Gestingthorpe, Essex who have been championing our sausages from the beginning. They have a very relaxed atmosphere, friendly staff, good beer and great sausages on the menu - there are not many places better for a night out with friends.

With a big smile on my face,

Wednesday, 26 August 2009


We've won our first award!

This weekend we went to the Sausage and Beer Festival at Jimmy's Farm & won the UK PRODUCER OF THE YEAR for our sausages!!

Now, we only make one kind of sausage, so didn't expect to win against the many other UK producers with their many kinds of sausages. But we nailed it!

These were our esteemed judges:

Jamie Willows - Head Butcher at Jimmy’s Farm

Tony Hadley - of Spandau Ballet fame & subsequently of Red Rat Craft real ale brewery.

Thane Prince - chef & food writer, set up Aldeburgh Cookery School

Stephen Plume - The Sausage King and sausage fan & blogger at

Jimmy's Farm had a great turnout, with plenty going on. We'll get some pics up soon once we stop celebrating!

Tuesday, 11 August 2009


So, the combine is busy and all the tractors are racing about the lanes. With a couple of near misses in the car I can assure you it pays to drive carefully at this time of year!!!

For me this time of year is all about preparation for the coming winter months. I have needed to wait till the harvest to spread my rather large muck heap and then commence with clearing the yards of yet more muck!!! O the life of a farmer it either mud or poo and sometimes muddy poo!

Straight after the harvest the bailing commences. We will have over 200 large round bails to move and only a trailer with the capacity to hold four at a time, so this is when I am grateful for the long hours of sunlight.

Fortunately I have already collected most of my wood for the winter. If last year is anything to go by I probably only have two thirds of what I need to last the winter - with three thousand logs cut and stored I think scavenging is going to be the name of the game for the last fifteen hundred.


Thursday, 6 August 2009

Decline of Saddlebacks - rise of the Tamworths!

Having said goodbye to both of our breeding Saddleback boars, Christopher and Broadband, we are now down to only one pig of breeding size, Taloola, the Tamworth sow. Fortunately I have just managed to procure Geoffrey, a Tamworth Boar!

At last we are going to be breeding straight Tamworths. This means we are going to be able to sell them at weener stage (ie straight off the tit!) to other breeders and people looking to fatten up their own pig for slaughter. Geoffrey unfortunately is only 3 months old so it is going to be a bit of time before he is of a large enough size to mate. The reason for me getting a young piglet is so I know how well he is handled while he is growing up. He'll become comfortable in his surroundings but most importantly he'll become comfortable with me - as there is not much worse than having an aggressive boar to work with.

While we will be breeding the Tamworths, I also aim to keep one of Taloola's last litter with Christopher. With his exceptionally long back and calm temperament it seems a shame to lose his blood line and his team did produce incredibly tasty pork!


Monday, 3 August 2009


So we have Bantams and Ducks. We have had them now for about two months. Unfortunately we lost Mr Scruff and a quacker to the dastardly fox so we are calling in the back up and getting ourselves a couple of Guinea Fowl and a couple of battery hens. The hens are expected to lay around an egg a day. The Guinea Fowl are great at setting up an alarm call if they see anything untoward and have been known to charge at a fox squawking their heads off till the fox runs away!!!

Of the Bantams we have for some reason got three cockerels and four hens. They are all fluffy footed and extremely fun to watch. I have never managed to keep them in a run as they seem to be great escape artists. It is however very nice to have them roaming round the lawns, currently they have discovered the pig pens and are having great time making dust baths.

Due to the extreme price of chicken houses I decided to make my own out of the remains of a pig arc. It works exceptionally well because the top is detachable so you don't have to climb around inside to clean it! and thankfully cost next to nothing. Now I'm off to shut them up for the night. Jim

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Something less depressing!

The last post depresses me every time I look at it so I thought I might post some more cheerful, colourful pictures from happier times.


Tuesday, 28 July 2009

A sad day

Due to recent changes on the farm we have decided to breed Tamworth Pigss which we can register. This unfortunately means that Christopher, our boar for 5yrs, has had his day. Christopher the gentle giant (weighing 470 kg) was lame on his front right and had lost a tusk, and although he was still capable, he was very uncomfortable walking so the decision was made to retire him from service. He is sorely missed.

Digg!" width="100" height="20"> reddit" border="0">

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Images from Africa

Hi All. I thought I would upload some of the images I have created over the last year from when I was on Honeymoon in Africa. They are in a completely different style to the work I have been doing of the farm animals, for one thing they have an abundance of colour! Anyway this is just three of the many I have done.

I hope you enjoyed them!.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Farmer Jim tryesto blog!

Sooooo. My sister has left the site and I am next to useless when it comes to updating anything! I can already feel the collective sigh of disappointment sweeping through the users looking for another excellent blog to read. Fortunately I have some impressive stories and amusing anecdotes which I am only too willing to boar you with.
I will try my darnedest to at the very least keep you updated with the general life on the farm, from helping the Sow to deliver 7 piglets to spending 3.5 hours trying to load Bernard, our 1.5 ton Aberdeen Angus bull, into a trailer.
As a picture is supposed to say a thousand words i will try and keep posting new ones relevant to the story at hand or just fun ones of the farm!!!
Anyway, enough rambling, I speak soon!
Jim Digg! submit to reddit

Sunday, 22 February 2009

i'm off...

I'm going to leave my dear brothers to create posts for this blog from the farm and I'm off... to make a new blog about all the things that interest me but AREN'T farm-related (you might have seen a few popping up on this site). I'll let you know where it is when I get round to making it.

Meanwhile I'll be at

I'll be back here when I have stories of my visits back home & the enormous amounts of shit-shovelling they save just for me :-)

Digg! submit to reddit